Story of the Gold ornaments


Value- Truth

Sub value- Knowing the real and unreal

In a certain town in South India; one great Master was coming to give discourse on the advait philosophy. Many of the spiritual seekers went to attend the session. Mr Sridhar was a devout person following his spiritual path through daily rituals of reading the scriptures, doing his daily prayers etc. He had recently started reading the great Master Adi Shankara’s teachings. Lot of doubts assailed his mind and he wanted to get clarity.

After the discourse; during the Q/A session, he asked this doubt to the Guruji. He wanted him to explain what did Shankara mean by


The guruji gave a simple example to Sridhar to make him understand this great truth.

He began;

JAGAT MITHYA: it simply means the world/cosmos is an illusion. he didn’t say that it doesn’t exist, it does, but an illusion.

In a jewelry shop we see all the different types of gold ornaments. One can make numerous varieties of ornaments/things with gold.

Now suppose we took 5 chains and melted them and made a gold bracelet. are there the 5 chains now? yes/no. They were there before it was melted. So yes. But now they are not there because a bracelet was made out of it. So, no. Hence the chains are an illusion as they no more exist. what if it was again melted and made into a locket? is the bracelet still there? Again, as above. So all the ornaments we see is just an illusion.

Similarly the nature, creatures, cosmos which existed, which you see, which will be there is just an illusion. they just happen to be there, but are not there. Just like a dream, which you experience as reality, see everything, but after you wake up you realize that it’s just a dream, an illusion. it is there but not there.

brahma satyam: the brahma/paramatma/omnipresence is the truth.

Lets come back to the gold example. By now you might have realized that all the ornaments are mithya/illusion. So what is the truth? The gold that the ornaments are made from is the truth. It is the gold which exists in different forms. so you think the gold is the truth pertaining to this context.

By comparing, the underlying meaning is that the nature/creatures/cosmos is an illusion. The truth is the brahma padartham/ paramatma/ omnipresence which  exists in all different forms of nature/man/cosmos is the truth. The divine spirit which is present in cosmos also called brahma is the truth.

The magic is one can see gold, but one can’t see paramatma, one has to experience it!!!

Sridhar now began understanding the concept and started practicing and living the messages of the scriptures; and soon began experiencing the joy and bliss it gave him. He found himself so much more at peace when he began seeing the divinity in all.


Experience is needed for one to realise that this world is unreal. Just like a fire is taken to be only as a light till one touches and experiences the heat from it; one realises that it has both heat and light. Similarly through experience man can realise that the world is real as well as unreal.

Courtesy- Teachings from Sathya Sai Speaks Vol 1, Chapter 2

Story adapted from Q/A on the real and unreal-Narayana Sarma Marthi dharmasya jayostu







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